20+ Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate


Over a period of time, there have been several shows where we’ve witnessed stories about drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, and other fraudulent activities. All of these activities have one thing in common: you will certainly land up in prison if you commit them. So, in this article Shows Like Orange Is The New Black, we’ve curated a list of shows that you’ll definitely like to dig into.

Orange Is The New Black (2013), happens to be one of Netflix’s most popular and viewed shows of all time. Since the day it was released, the show has been a conversation starter. The story revolves around the main character Piper Chapman played by Taylor Schilling, a resident of New York City in her thirties. Piper manages to get herself arrested for transporting a suitcase filled with drug money. 

She was transporting the money for her girlfriend Alex Vause played by Laura Prepon, who turns out to be an international drug trafficker. The show explores the aspect of how an individual changes as a person, mentally as well as physically in a prison. Though the story takes place in an all-women’s prison, the entire concept of “prison” remains the same. The show also portrays the real and dark truth of prison life, which involves, corruption, brutality, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and so on.

The most unique aspect of the show is the blend of harsh realism and unconventional humor. Orange Is The New Black first premiered on 11th July 2013 on Netflix, and immediately became a huge hit. The American dark-comedy drama is created by Jenji Kohan. The show has 7 seasons with 91 episodes. It has received several awards including six Golden Globe Award nominations.

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

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5 Spectacular Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Amazed

Well, now that you have a complete perspective of Orange Is The New Black, it’s time we get introduced to some of the similar shows that you will love to binge-watch. Keep on reading.

#1 Shameless (2011)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

The Shameless (2011), portrays the story of a needy and dysfunctional family headed by a single irresponsible father Frank Gallagher played by William H. Macy. He lives with his six children Fiona, Phillip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam, who all are very much familiar with the kind of person their father really is.

These children learn the hard way in order to survive in this cruel world with no one to guide them as they should be. Frank spends most of his days getting drunk or getting himself into unnecessary trouble. The kids finally understood the fact that their father won’t be of much help, so they are almost on their own.

The show Shameless mainly focuses on Frank’s intense alcoholism and drug abuse around his children, and how his actions affect the whole family.

The show premiered on 9th January 2011 on Showtime. The show is based on Paul Abbott’s British series of the same name. Shameless happens to be the longest-running series in Showtime’s history.

If you’ve enjoyed watching Orange Is The New Black, then you would definitely dig into this.

  • Created by: Paul Abbott
  • Developed by: John Wells
  • Cast: William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey, Emma Kenney, Jeremy Allen White, Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher, Joan Cusack
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy
  • Seasons: 11
  • Episodes: 134
  • Platforms Available On: Prime, Netflix, Hulu
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.6
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 82%

#2 Hollywood (2020)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Hollywood (2020), focuses on the glamour and lavishness of the old Hollywood industry after the end of the second world war. Everyone during that time had their own struggle and troubles to get through in order to survive and make a name in the industry. Most importantly in order to be recognized as a successful filmmaker, or a great actor or actress they would do whatever is required and necessary, no matter how dangerous it would it be.

The show deals with the culture and traditional practices in the Hollywood industry back then. Hollywood also explores the many stigmas and difficulties in the industry during that period surrounding racism, gender equality, and homophobia, some of the topics which were also focused on Orange Is The New Black

The show very clearly tells the story of how the Golden Age of Hollywood wasn’t exactly as glamorous as people outside thought it to be. The show premiered on the 1st of May, 2020 on Netflix and has also received 12 nominations for the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.

  • Created by: Ryan Murphy, Ian Brenan
  • Cast: David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, Joe Mantello, Dylan McDermott, Jake Picking, Jeremy Pope, Holland Taylor
  • Genre: Drama
  • Seasons: 1
  • Episodes: 7
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix, FMovies
  • IMDb Ratings: 7.5
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 59%

#3 Arrested Development (2003)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Arrested Development (2003), tells the story of a rich family that eventually loses all its wealth when the head of the family gets arrested for fraudulent activity. The story revolves around all the other members of the big Bluth Family who all end up in jail some time or the other by committing something stupid and unnecessary. The main character, Michael Bluth played by Jason Bateman the only sane person who tries to protect the family and keep everyone safe.

The show also deals with the characteristics of the family members and explores their manipulative, materialistic, and supercritical nature. Arrested Development has its dramatic moments and has room for offbeat humor.

The show originally premiered on Fox, in 2003, and was later picked up by Netflix in 2013. The show received a Golden Globe Award, six Primetime Emmy Awards, and several critical acclaims as well.

  • Created by: Mitchell Hurwitz
  • Cast: Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter
  • Genre: Drama, Sitcom
  • Seasons: 5
  • Episodes: 84
  • Platforms Available On: Hulu, The Roku Channel, Netflix, Prime
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.7
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 74%

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#4 Killing Eve (2018)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

The show Killing Eve (2018), revolves around the two main characters, Eve Polastri played by Sandra Oh who is a British military intelligence investigator, in search of a dangerous and ruthless international assassin named Villanelle played by Jodie Comer. 

As Eves’ hunt for Villanelle continues, the story escalates when after a point both of them get equally obsessed with each other and their lives get intertwined.

The show is filled with amazing action sequences and thrilling plot twists which will definitely make you fall in love with the show. The series also focuses on women’s empowerment and particularly how these two women deal with each other and the world around them.

One unique reason why the show became even more popular, is because of the emphasis on strong female lead characters. The show is based on the novel series Villanelle by Luke Jennings. Killing Eve premiered on 8th April 2018 on BBC America.

  • Written by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emereld Fennell, Suzanne Heathcote, Laura Neal 
  • Cast: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Darren Boyd, Owen McDonnell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, David Haig, Kim Bodnia, Sean Delaney
  • Genre: Drama, Action
  • Seasons: 4
  • Episodes: 32
  • Platforms Available On: Hulu, Prime, BBC America, Fubo TV
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.2
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 82%

#5 Weeds (2005)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Weeds (2005), portrays the life of a widowed mother Nancy Botwin played by Mary-Louise Parker who has two boys to look after. Her husband dies due to a heart attack, leaving the family in a financial crisis. Now, in order to support her family and maintain the upper-middle-class lifestyle, Nancy finally decides to sell [email protected] to the locals.

The story takes a major turn when with each passing day, Nancy and her family get sucked into the unfair and illegal world of drugs and crime. Things for Nancy do not remain the same when situations get dire.

Weeds first premiered on 8th August 2005 on Showtime. It is created by Jenji Kohan who later created Orange Is The New Black. After the series aired on Showtime, it helped the channel in earning its highest ratings. Weeds have received numerous awards including a Golden Globe Award and two Emmy Awards along with a Writers Guild Award. 

  • Written by: Jenji Kohan
  • Cast: Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Justin Kirk, Tonye Patano, Romany Malco, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould
  • Genre: Drama, Dark-Comedy
  • Seasons: 8
  • Episodes: 102
  • Platforms Available On: Prime, Hulu, Peacock
  • IMDb Ratings: 8
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 70%

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5 Engrossing Shows Like Orange Is The New Black On Netflix | The List Is Not Over Yet

#1 Sense8 (2015)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Sense8 (2015), depicts the story of eight strangers named Capheus, Sun, Nomi, Kala, Riley, Wolfgang, Lito, and Will, who discover that they are all “sensates.” They all are mentally and emotionally connected with each other irrespective of living far away in different parts of the world. They all can sense and communicate with each other, and also have the ability to share their knowledge, skills, and even language as well.

The story progresses as they try to find out some answers that how something like this is possible. Their urgent need of finding out answers goes beyond their simple curiosity. While looking for their answer, they find out that a mysterious organization known as Biologic Preservation Organization (BPO), is trying to chase them down with the intention of killing them all.

Sense8 is a Netflix original show and is highly nuanced with intense storytelling and screenplay. The show premiered on 5th June 2015 exclusively on Netflix and is created by The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski. The show received the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding drama series and has also got a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award.

  • Written by: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, J. Michael Straczynski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon
  • Created by: The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski
  • Cast: Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Brian J. Smith, Freema Agyeman, Alfonso Herrera
  • Genre: Drama, Action, Sci/Fi
  • Seasons: 2
  • Episodes: 24
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.3
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 86%

#2 Jailbirds (2019)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Jailbirds (2019), happens to tell a unique and interesting story about some imprisoned females, at the Sacramento County Jail. Now, the strange thing that goes on in the jail on a daily basis is that these incarcerated females have to fight either the authority or other inmates in order to make their life a little better. 

So, for instance whenever an inmate tries to mess with another cellmate, then for the victim it becomes a payback time. Whenever the inmates want to convey a message, they try to communicate through connecting toilet pipes that act as a communications network. 

The tension seems to rise as the story takes a vital turn and a dangerous fight begins in the dayroom. It is a highly gripping show and is a lot similar to Orange Is The New Black, in terms of the story and plot points. 

The show is a Netflix original and was released in 2019. A distinctive aspect of the show is that it is shot in a documentary style. Which makes it completely different from any usual web series. If you’ve enjoyed watching Orange Is The New Black, then you’re bound to like this show.

  • Produced by: Jeanne Begley, Susan Carney, Valerie Castillo, Rasha Drachkovitch, Ian Egos
  • Cast: Rebecca Temme, Taylor Coatney,  Andrea Gunderson, Gaylon Beason, Najla Jones
  • Genre: Drama
  • Seasons: 1
  • Episodes: 6
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix
  • IMDb Ratings: 7

#3 Glow (2017)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Glow (2017), portrays the story of Ruth Wilder played by Alison Brie, in 1980’s Los Angeles, who is an actress but is desperately looking for work that pays. She comes across an audition along with many other women for a professional wrestling promotion known as the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling (GLOW).

Later, Ruth finds out that her former best friend Debbie Eagon played by Betty Gilpin has already been hired as the main lead in the show. As the tension between both the women rises, it comes down to the point that either any one of them will star in the show, or the show won’t take place at all.

Glow, as a show has a lot of unconventional humor and weird moments which are extremely fun to witness as an audience. It also deals with serious issues like sexual harassment, eating disorders, racism, and various other stereotypes.

Glow is the kind of show that everyone is bound to like. 

  • Created by: Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch
  • Cast: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Marc Maron, Britt Baron, Kate Nash
  • Genre: Drama, Comedy
  • Seasons: 3
  • Episodes: 30
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix
  • IMDb Ratings: 8
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 92%

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#4 Wentworth (2013)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Wenworth (2013), explores the life of Bea Smith played by Danielle Cormack who is charged with the attempted murder of her abusive husband, who used to beat her up and torture her. She is separated from her only daughter and is sent to Wentworth, a women’s prison. The interesting part is that she doesn’t know if she will be sentenced.

The show focuses on the struggles of prison life and how the inmates survive each day in such a violent and dangerous environment. Bea is completely paranoid after a couple of days in prison, and she also has the tendency to get manipulated by other people as she is extremely vulnerable.

Franky Doyle one of the prison’s top dogs, tries to manipulate Bea, into doing some of his dirty and illegal work. The show Wentworth, is a lot similar to Orange Is The New Black, except that Wentworth is more intense, brutal, and realistic in terms of the story. Whereas Orange Is The New Black has a little comedy and lightheartedness in it.

  • Created by: Lara Radulovich, David Hannam, Reg Watson
  • Cast: Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Kris McQuade, Libby Tanner, Leeanna Walsman, Kate Atkinson, Celia Ireland, Shareena Clanton, Aaron C. Jeffery
  • Genre: Drama
  • Seasons: 8
  • Episodes: 100
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.7

#5 Orphan Black (2013)

10 Hard-Hitting Shows Like Orange Is The New Black | You’ll Be Forced To Contemplate

Orphan Black (2013), happens to be one of Netflix’s most captivating and gripping shows, because of its distinctive storyline. The story revolves around the main character called Sarah Manning played by Tatiana Maslany who witnesses the suicide of a girl who looks exactly like her.

She eventually discovers that the girl whom she saw committing suicide, was her clone and there are many more women who look as same her throughout America and Europe. She also finds out the fact that they are a part of an illegal human cloning experiment.

This storyline single-handedly changes the entire setup of the show and brings it to another level. The show has several shocking twists that will leave the viewers completely surprised. Tatiana Maslany does an impressive job on the show as she goes as far as to play five different protagonists in a single series.

This is the kind of show that will knock you out of your seat.

  • Created by: Graeme Manson, John Fawcett
  • Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Michael Mando, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Evelyne Brochu
  • Genre: Drama, Action
  • Seasons: 5
  • Episodes: 50
  • Platforms Available On: Netflix
  • IMDb Ratings: 8.3
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

12 Other Gripping Shows Like Orange Is The New Black

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Name of the ShowsCreated & Developed ByIMDb RatingSeasons & EpisodesWhere To Watch
Sons Of Anarchy (2008)Kurt Sutter8.67 (92 Episodes)Hulu, Prime, Vudu
Bates Motel (2013)Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano
8.25 (50 Episodes)Peacock, Prime, Vudu
Dexter (2006)James Manos Junior8.78 (96 Episodes)Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Voot
Scandal (2012)Shonda Rhimes7.87 (124 Episodes)Hulu, Prime, Vudu
Better Call Saul (2015)Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould8.86 (53 Episodes)Netflix
Girls Incarcerated (2018)Nick Rigg, David George7.22 (16 Episodes)Netflix
Grace and Frankie (2015)Marta Kauffman, Howard J Morris8.37 (82 Episodes)Netflix
Ozark (2017)Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams8.54 (37 Episodes)Netflix
The L Word (2004)Ilene Chaiken, Michele Abbot, Kathy Greenberg
7.76 (70 Episodes)Showtime, Prime, Fubo TV
Prison Break (2005)Paul Scheuring8.35 (90 Episodes)Disney Hotstar
Bad Girls (1999)Maureen Chadwick, Ann McManus7.98 (107 Episodes)Prime, Hulu
Queen Of The South (2016)M.A Fortin, Joshua John Miller85 (62Episodes)Disney Hotstar, Netflix

Also, Read | 8 Shows Like Queen Of The South | Exciting Shows Ahead!

Final Words

Hope that this curated list has been helpful. Now, you know everything about the shows that are like Orange Is The New Black. The best part is that you will find most of the shows available on Netflix.

Koustav Mandal
Koustav Mandal
I'm a graduate in Mass Communication and Journalism turned into a professional writer and dream of becoming an established filmmaker one day. Art keeps me alive and excites me from within. For me, good whiskey and great coffee are very important. Artists and philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Dostoyevsky, Marx, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso, Chomsky, Sartre, and many more inspire me every day. I'm a procrastinator at times and believe it's a sin.


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